Entertainment Lawyers are in a practice area that is widely varied and that comprises film, television, radio, music, publishing, commercial theatre, multimedia, interactive media and the visual arts. Within each of these sectors, practitioners engage in contract negotiations, financing, production, co-production, distribution and tax law matters.
In addition, there are the complementary areas of copyright, trademark, broadcasting and securities law (financings) that serve to widen the scope of the practice area.
Please note that the Lexpert directory has separate practice areas for:
Entertainment law is an area of law that deals with the various sectors of the entertainment industry, such as TV, film, music, print or publishing, sports and gaming, and now includes social media and online entertainment. While entertainment law may have general laws and regulations, these individual sectors may also have unique sets of laws and regulations on its own, based on the differences on the platforms used, the people involved, and the artists engaged with.
Entertainment law mostly overlaps with media law, corporate law, taxation, commercial law, intellectual property law, labour law, laws on advertising, torts and damages, privacy law, insurance law, and competition law. Additionally, where there is an international component, entertainment law would also apply private international law, and immigration laws.
Entertainment law mainly provides protection to the interests of the stakeholders in the entertainment industry. The law aims to mostly protect artists (who does not only include television and social media superstars, but also authors, screenwriters or scriptwriters, among others) with regards to their intellectual property rights and their rights as workers.
On the other hand, it protects entertainment companies, agents, and other personalities in a contract with these artists, especially when there has been breach of contract by either party. Entertainment law also protects other persons involved in the industry’s whole creative process, such as the production crew, directors, and producers.
Entertainment law in Canada is a collection of laws regulating the different medium of entertainment – namely, TV, film, radio, social media and online platforms – and governs the different personalities in the entertainment industry – the artist, their agents, the media or label companies they work for, distributors and marketing agencies, and other third parties in a long line of transactions from creation to consumption.
This Act established the Canadian Radio-television and Telecommunications Commission (CRTC), enumerated its composition, and its other duties and functions as to broadcasting in Canada. The Commission or the CRTC is the main federal regulating authority for broadcasting and telecommunications of the traditional media – TV, film, or radio.
The Broadcasting Act is the more specific statute relating to broadcasting of telecommunications. The Act outlines the broadcasting policy (Section 3(1)) and regulating policy (Section 3(2)) for Canada, which also concerns the CRTC, empowering the said Commission its regulatory function.
The Act also provides for the mandate and sets the role of the Canadian Broadcasting Corporation/Radio-Canada (Part III), which is the federal Crown corporation for radio and TV.
While this Act is mostly concerned with telecommunications, which is how information are transmitted through technical systems, the Telecommunications Act also governs Canadian media companies as it also outlines the telecommunications policy (Section 7).
Entertainment lawyers in Canada are experienced in these different branches of law that have a great impact on entertainment law. While entertainment lawyers may proceed to litigation in some instances, they are highly transactional and corporate in nature, working behind the scenes for and on behalf of their clients – artists/creators and corporations (private and public) alike.
The work of entertainment lawyers heavily relies on contracts and other paperwork. These may be between artists and their agents; artists and their media labels or producers; or, media labels or producers and the distributors (either public or private corporations). Entertainment lawyers help any of these parties in drafting the contract, ensuring that the interest of one resonates with the contract and that the other party concedes, hence, entertainment lawyers do not only write but also negotiates.
When contracts are finally perfected, entertainment lawyers monitor its compliance in good faith of their clients or the other party, and in the instance of any breach, they may again negotiate under mediation, or submit the dispute to arbitration, with the last resort of proceeding with a court action against the violating party (or defending their client when the alleged fault is on their side).
The subject matter of these contracts may be:
Regulations under the Canadian Intellectual Property Office (CIPO) may also apply with regards to the contractual relations between artists, writers, or other content creators, and their agents, producers, distributors, or social media platforms. As such, entertainment lawyers also advise clients regarding their intellectual property rights under Canadian law, which may cover trademarks, copyrights, patents, etc.
Tax law applies in entertainment law in many ways. One is to the other side of entertainment law in Canada governing gaming and gambling. Whether it may be casinos, lotteries, and sports wagering, and whether it may be done offline or online, provisions of the Income Tax Act and the regulations of the Canadian Revenue Agency (CRA) may apply.
Another way where taxation applies in the entertainment industry is for the multimedia businesses or entertainment productions. For both instances, corporate law provisions of the Canadian Business Corporations Act may also apply. Thus, entertainment lawyers are also knowledgeable in both taxation laws and corporate laws in their law practice.
The rights of a Canadian worker under labour laws apply to all workers of the media label, production company, public and private broadcasting companies, and even to the artists, during their contractual engagements. For this, entertainment lawyers can delineate when the Canada Labour Code, or the provincial or territorial labour laws, would apply given the circumstances.
Is entertainment law in Canada regulated?
The laws mentioned above, such as the Broadcasting Act and the Telecommunications Act, are implemented by the CRTC. The Commission regulates broadcast distributors, content over the internet or online platforms, landline telephone services, and approvals for transfers of ownership of broadcasting licence.
In need of the best entertainment lawyers in Canada? Head down below for a list of Lexpert Ranked lawyers and law firms to help you with anything related to the entertainment industry.